Once again I had the opportunity to join Mid States Wool Company from Ohio on the Navajo reservation buying wool from the Dine people. This is the fourth year that I have been involved as a volunteer. We travel across the Navajo nation beginning at Crown Point, and traveling on to Shiprock, Mexican Water, Tsaile, Pinon, Kaibeto, Tuba City and finally Dilkon, over a period of 7 days. Each year more people have heard that we are coming to buy wool, and the number of sellers has increased dramatically. This year we filled 7 tractor trailers with wool and mohair. My motivation for joining this group has been to assist in bringing a fair price to the Dine people for their fiber. The logistics of the trip are quite complicated as lodging is scarce, distances are quite great and scheduling the tractor trailer pickups are challenging. Stanley Strode oversees all of these moving parts, and Felix Nez brings in workers from Dine College to help with the labor, and translating. Teddy and Lynn Varndell purchase mohair, and Peter Hagerty, with Peace Fleece, also purchases wool. Lisa Takata and I work the table, calculating the weights of fiber, and writing the checks from Mid States. Stanley grades each bag of wool as it comes in and many times one truck will contain 4 or 5 different grades/prices of wool. People have to wait patiently in their trucks in lines of up to 100 trucks for hours, as we go through the time intensive task of grading the wool, weighing it, calculating the final price, and writing the check. The beautiful smiles and warm handshakes we get at the end of each interaction is our reward for time well spent.
The following is an article from the Navajo Times the week we were there